2020 has been a year where many smartphones were launched even in a pandemic with all the virtual events. There were many smartphones with improved cameras. Some smartphones were camera-centric, while some were gaming-centric phones. Cheap phones are improving a lot while the flagships still are the flag bearers in the race, but customers are choosing and inclining towards the cheap phones with their high prices. Even though in this pandemic when travel was restricted, tourists were not allowed and so were the cameras use decline, people still clicked a lot of photos be it the case of camera test or just for a review. With all-new 64MP, 108MP sensors, many budget phones were launched to counter the big flagships.
With all these smartphones at the helm like OnePlus, Oppo, Samsung, Sony, Xiaomi, and many more, there were few standout performers who, irrespective of their price, were best when it comes to clicking the pics be it their image processing power or the system software, they delivered the best in class images, those shots for Instagram posts and Facebook profiles. Below are the five smartphones that performed the best:
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best and most expensive offering from Apple for this year. The latest A14 Bionic Chipset is arguably the fastest chip in this year’s smartphone; The 12 Pro Max comes with a 6.7-inch OLED Display, 6GB RAM, and a base variant of 128GB of storage. Price of 12 Pro Max starts with $1,099 in the USA, AU$1849 in Australia and Rs. 1,29,900 in India. With IOS14 out of the box, iPhone 12 Pro Max is the ultimate king from Apple for this year.
Compared to the iPhone 12 mini, the 12 Pro Max feels like a gigantic phone, and for some users, it might feel uncomfortable, especially for those who have small hands and girls. As compared to last year’s iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple claims this isn’t much larger. Still, it just feels a little big; the difference is minimal, though. With such a large screen, it’s just impossible for one-hand use. The only other phone we can say this is Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
Coming to the cameras, iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with a rear primary camera of 12-megapixel with an f/1.6 aperture, a second 12-megapixel camera with an ultra-wide lens having an aperture of f/2.4 with a 120-degree view, and a third telephoto camera of 12-megapixel with f/2.2 aperture with 2.5x optical zoom. On the top, it comes with a 3D LIDAR Scanner, a new feature launched by Apple. The primary purpose of LIDAR in the iPhone is to improve the augmented reality (AR). It will give apps more useful and accurate information about their surroundings for smoother and more reliable AR. It has an effective range of 16 feet or 5 meters. With a 2.5x optical zoom, if you want to go from ultra-wide to telephoto, it gives you a 5x optical zoom range compared to 4x on iPhone 12 Pro. This also translates to 12x Photo Digital Zoom or 6x video Digital Zoom.
The wide camera is also the main shooter with sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS). That means that the camera sensor itself is being constantly being stabilized while you frame your shot; this decreases the number of blurry shots you take. Apple installed a new sensor, especially for iPhone 12 Pro Max; it is 47% larger and captures more light. In case you take a lot of low light shots or capture videos in low light situations, iPhone 12 Pro Max will be best for you and hence give you the best shots.
Here are the scores for iPhone 12 Pro Max
This results wherein a sample size of 500 images were taken, and scores are here for you. iPhone 12 Pro Max scored 93 on Exposure while 101 was scored on Color and texture. The best score for the iPhone came in Autofocus. On the Noise front, both on the shot and digital noise, the iPhone scored 75 with bit grey areas on the images. iPhone produces good Bokeh shots. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a capable night shooter and an improvement over the 11 Pro Max.
Overall iPhone 12 Pro Max is undoubtedly one of the best smartphones for the camera; if you are going on a tour and want to take just one smartphone for all your pictures and videos, the 12 Pro Max is the one for you. Also, with the Apple ProRAW mode coming to iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Max, it will give access to the RAW and unaltered photos, and much more.
Pixel 5 is the latest flagship phone from Google; it comes with a 6.0-inch OLED HDR10+ Display with a refreshing rate of 90Hz and a resolution of 2340×1080 Pixels. It has the protection of Corning Gorilla Glass 6. Pixel 5 comes with Snapdragon 765G Chipset, which is an Octa-Core processor. It runs on Android 11 out of the box. It doesn’t look like a flagship phone with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage, at least not on paper with these specifications. The Pixel is named the flagship of Google but is a step down from High-end competitors who all have larger displays, the better latest Snapdragon 845+, 865+, and more storage. The key statistics to note here is the price at which Pixel 5 was launched; at $699, it easily hit the sweet spot, and with Google aiming to explore mid-market, with its less expensive model, it was a shot well taken.
Coming to Google photography, which is always the best in class. Pixel 5 packs a dual-camera setup with a Standard wide and Ultra-wide lens. There is no telephoto lens for long focal zoom length shots and no depth sensor to take bokeh shots. This is where Google changed its strategy; in Pixel 4, Google offered a standard wide lens and a telephoto lens when every phone out there was offering the ultra-wide lens, It backfired, and users were in a dilemma about whether to buy a Pixel phone and sacrifice the ultra-wide lens or go for other Android options. They have rectified this time around, but at the expense of telephoto, Google cannot offer us the three-camera setup to enjoy the images.
Anyway, moving on, Pixel 5 has the same standard wide lens that was used in Pixel 4. It is the standard 12.2 MP 1/2.55-inch sensor with 1.4µm pixels, coupled to a 27mm-equivalent f/1.7 lens with dual pixel PDAF and OIS. The wide aperture lens will help in low light photography. Google relies on software and processing for improvements in noise and detail. Google has fitted the Pixel 5 with a second16 MP 1/3.09-inch sensor with 1.0µm pixels alongside a 16.5 mm-equivalent f/2.2-aperture lens. Hardware is not as good as other competitors offering more views and bigger chips on their ultra-wide shooters. However, it will provide Pixel shooters an alternative when they need to squeeze more into the frames. Google also equipped Pixel 5 with a Selfie Camera, a single 8MP sensor f/2.0 24mm lens for better selfies.
Here are the scores for the photos from Pixel 5
This results wherein a sample size of 500 images were taken, and scores are here for you. Pixel 5 scored 96 on both Exposure and Color, while 98 was scored on Autofocus and texture. Lesser the noise better will be the image as it is said though not 100% true, Pixel 5 scored 65 on Noise. Night shots were good, and Pixel 5 scored 60 in that respect. Overall for photographers, these numbers are good but not great. These are great numbers for normal users or selfie lovers, especially when you look for Color, Exposure, and Autofocus. Perfect sum up for a great camera.
Asus launched its ZenFone 7 Pro, a predecessor to ZenFone 6, on September 1, 2020. It comes with a Top end processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+. A gigantic phone with 6.67-inch Super AMOLED Displays with a refresh rate of 90Hz and HDR10+. It has a resolution of 2400×1080 pixels and protection of Corning Gorilla Glass 6. It runs on the Android 10 operating system out of the box. Asus has decided to stick with their motorized flip-up camera setup introduced on the ZenFone 6, a way by which you can make the rear cameras flip and make them a selfie camera.
ZenFone 6 came with a dual-camera setup; however, with ZenFone 7, the company added a telephoto lens, making it a triple camera setup. The main standard camera is a 64 MP sensor that bins down to 16 MP output — larger and higher resolution than the ZenFone 6’s main camera while maintaining the same pixel pitch. There is a new 8MP telephoto module with an 80mm focal length lens, which will improve the zoom performance.
A new ultra-wide camera offered much more field of view than ZenFone 6 last year. It has a 17mm lens and an aperture of f/2.2. ZenFone 7 Pro offers a new feature of dual pixel phase detection autofocus, which is more useful for close-up shots. It now has a feature of shooting an 8K Video at 30fps, which is an improvement than last year’s 4K at 30/60fps. With a motorized flip-up mechanism, it gives the users the best selfie camera in any phone for the year 2020. There is a consistent exposure every time you click with this phone, and it doesn’t miss.
Here are the camera test scores where the sample size was 500 pics clicked on different locations and different objects.
As you can see with the scores, Asus ZenFone 7 performed relatively well in many aspects. Still, there were some parameters where Asus lost, like problematic Bokeh mode, covering the full dynamic range and significant artifacts. Overall it’s a phone that can produce good-looking photos, and the added advantage of the flip mechanism makes it a beast when it comes to a selfie camera.
Samsung launched its biggest flagship till now, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, in August 2020. It’s a massive phone powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ Chipset, the top end processor by Qualcomm (before the latest Snapdragon 888) launch. There was a cache in it; the Snapdragon version was only launched in the USA while for the rest of the world, Samsung launched its Note 20 Ultra 5G in its own made Exynos 990 Chipset, which is quite different to Snapdragon 865+, especially when it comes to battery life. Many battery tests suggest that phonos’ performance with Exynos chip is below that with Snapdragon ones. Nonetheless, its performance is still great, whether on-camera or on processing heavy files, gaming, and much more.
Carrying a massive 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED display and a refresh rate of 120Hz and HDR10+ quality is undoubtedly the best screen on offer by a company on this list. It isn’t surprising knowing that Apple themselves import the screens from Samsung. Pixel density is 496 PPI, and the resolution offered by this massive screen is mammoth 3088×1440 pixels. The base variant comes with 12GB RAM and 128GB of Storage. The biggest flagship device of 2020 is, without a doubt, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
Coming to the cameras, Samsung has included the time-of-flight (TOF) sensor, which is also found on their S20 Ultra version. They have also made some updates on their tele camera setup. The primary camera looks essentially the same, featuring the same 1/1.33 MP, 108 MP-resolution sensor, with 3×3 pixel binning for outputting a 12 MP final image. This is coupled to a standard wide-angle 26 mm-equivalent lens that features an f/1.8 aperture, laser, PDAF autofocus, and optical image stabilization (OIS). The telephoto camera has a 12MP sensor with a 120 mm-equivalent periscope-style lens that can be used for zoom shots, it can take 5x optical zoom shots, and telephoto also supports PDAF and OIS. On the Ultra-wide front, Samsung has decided to stick with their tried and tested 12MP sensor with a lens of f/2.2 aperture; this has been their go-to sensor, which has been performing well in their other models as well.
The Samsung Note20 Ultra 5G’s primary camera delivers excellent exposure in bright light and typical indoor conditions. Although the dynamic range isn’t quite as extended as we’ve seen with some devices, and low-light images can be slightly underexposed, it does a good job overall. Below are the scores for Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G.
As you can see what the numbers suggest, it offers a good dynamic range and exposure; however, the low light exposure indoors and outdoors isn’t good enough, bringing down the overall score for Exposure. The colors produced are excellent, especially in bright light where saturations are high. Autofocus is fast and accurate in all lighting conditions when the camera is placed somewhere; however, it is slow to find the focus when clicking the pics by hand. The detail level is excellent, and it can be seen in texture scores; in indoor images, there is, however, some noise that could be seen. Artifacts and Noise levels are low, not good but acceptable. In portrait shots, it delivers good bokeh shots with minute details clear and blur background is perfect.
Huawei launched its premium phone, the Mate40 Pro, in November 2020. It has a 6.7-inch OLED and HDR10 Display with a refresh rate of 90Hz. It has a pixel density of 456 PPI. The resolution of Mate40 Pro is 1344×2772 pixels. It runs on Android 10. Since Huawei no longer gets google support so, there are no google applications in Mate40 Pro. After restrictions on Huawei in the USA, no American company can work with Huawei; therefore, most of the things you will find on Huawei Mate40 Pro are made by Huawei themselves. There is a Kirin 9000 processor, a powerful Octa-Core processor made on a 5nm chip.
It has a UFS 3.1 storage, which is incredibly fast, and RAM options in Mate40 Pro are 8GB only. However, storage has 256GB and 512GB options. It comes with a 4400mAh battery, which supports 66W fast wired charging and 50W wireless charging, insane numbers, aren’t they?
Coming to the cameras, The Mate 40 Pro’s primary camera does not feature an optical stabilization system. Otherwise, it comes with the same 50MP with 1/1.28″ sensor and f/1.9-aperture lens as the P-series model, the P40 Pro. The ultra-wide camera retains the P40 Pro’s lens with an f/1.8 aperture and 18 mm equivalent field of view but now uses a 20 MP sensor with bigger pixels instead of 40 MP. The specs of the 5x tele-camera remain unchanged; they still using the same 12MP with 1/3.56″ sensor that comes with optical image stabilization and PDAF. It can record a 4K Video with 60fps as well.
As the above scores suggest. These are incredible numbers as we all know how Huawei makes phones with great cameras, and without a shadow of a doubt, Mate40 Pro is no exception. Mate40 Pro has maintained an excellent wide dynamic range across whole levels, be it meager light or bright light, as it is the case every time in bright light cameras capture wide dynamic range. Mate40 Pro doesn’t disappoint in night shots and is a great option for night and dim light shots. Autofocus is so accurate that it further improves sharpness as well. The Mate 40 Pro’s portrait mode does a good job creating a good natural-looking bokeh simulation that doesn’t look far off from something a DSLR and fast lens could capture. Even in complex objects like hair, it does an excellent job in depth estimation. On the Mate 40 Pro, white balance is accurate in all conditions, and color rendering is pleasant. It scores well on both noise and texture as well. Artifacts are well controlled, and if you zoom in, only you can view a few spots that otherwise you would overlook.
Overall it’s somewhat a better prospect from some phones listed above, but its only drawback is that it doesn’t have google services; therefore, people taking chances would be less, but otherwise, if we keep that out, it’s a great phone for photo lovers.